It is indicative of the general triumph of early music that even in Japan, where the repertoire has until recently been heavily skewed toward mainstream Classical-Romantic repertory, an album like this release, representing a quirky byway of classical music, may find an audience. For those in the know, the title Claviorgan Wonderland will be redundant, for the instrument involved, which as the name suggests is a harpsichord and small organ housed in a single shell, is truly a wondrous thing. Italian player Claudio Brizi, here using a modern instrument (few original examples exist), offers a sample of the century and a half of music that might have been played on the instrument. There are well-known pieces (Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, makes the cut) and obscure Baroque keyboard works like Abraham van den Kerckhoven's Fantasia in D minor. What makes it all hang together is Brizi's sensitivity in using the instrument to catch details in the music without introducing sectionality that is not there already. Never does he use the score merely as a stimulus to further creative activity. The organ can play several roles. It may, as in several of the Bach works, be the tutti in contrasts suggesting a large vs. small group. Often the organ plays the melody, with the harpsichord in the continuo role. Then there are pieces involving what might even at this early date be termed expanded technique, including William Byrd's "The Drum and the Flute" (track 4). The use of the harpsichord in John Bull's Goodnight (ending the program) is unique and absolutely charming. The album was recorded at a variety of Italian locations between 2004 and 2011 but does not feel patched together; most of the sound environments fit the music reasonably well.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Battle, for keyboard, MB 94|
|Sonata in D minor, K89|